How much money could college athletes make from NIL rights?

Laveta Brigham

Table of Contents MethodologySocial mediaStart a businessApparel dealsCommercialsCamps and lessons Methodology We asked more than a dozen experts in a variety of fields to help us understand the future marketplace for college athlete endorsements. While the market will be shaped by many variables and yet-to-be-finalized regulations, we used their insights […]

Methodology

We asked more than a dozen experts in a variety of fields to help us understand the future marketplace for college athlete endorsements. While the market will be shaped by many variables and yet-to-be-finalized regulations, we used their insights to estimate potential future earnings. Here’s how:

Social media

Information comes from data and expert opinions provided by social media and marketing agencies. The dollar-value ranges reflect the high end of the projected possible income athletes could generate in one year if they are aggressively pursuing deals and maintaining a strong and engaging social media brand.

The numbers are an average of projections provided by four companies (see below) that help athletes build and monetize personal brands through social media as well as other marketing opportunities. Those companies developed their projections for each of our college athlete categories by measuring how much money and how many deals are currently made by pro athletes who have comparable followings and engagement rates on their social media accounts. The experts we consulted are listed below.

Ishveen Anand is the CEO and founder of OpenSponsorship, an online platform where athletes can connect with companies for marketing deals through social media, appearances or other endorsements.

Jim Cavale is the CEO and founder of INFLCR, a company that works with more than 100 college athletic departments to help schools distribute content such as photos and videos with athletes, who can then share it on social media to help build their personal brands.

Steven Galanis is the CEO and co-founder of Cameo, an app that enables fans to pay athletes and other celebrities to record short, personalized video messages.

Chase Garrett is the CEO and founder of Icon Source, a company built to help less prominent athletes connect with growing brands for marketing opportunities on social media and elsewhere.

Blake Lawrence is the CEO and co-founder of Opendorse, a company used by roughly 16,000 college athletes and 75 athletic departments to help athletes build their brands and connect with companies for marketing opportunities.

Start a business

The market for future businesses started by college athletes is limited only by their imagination and time. While there is no way to place a price range on these possibilities, we spoke to several athletes and entrepreneurs who started businesses or who researched this area to better understand the types of ventures that would make sense for a variety of athletes and the amount of time and support that would be needed for each of them. The experts we consulted are listed below.

Donald De La Haye is a former University of Central Florida place-kicker who left school in 2017 after he was told his popular YouTube channel didn’t comply with NCAA rules.

Ryan Hintze is a former University of South Florida tight end who started a digital marketing company in high school and has a career as a model/social media influencer.

Hayley Hodson is a former Stanford volleyball player and current UCLA law student who works as a college athlete advocate.

Blake Lawrence is a former Nebraska football player who started the social media company Opendorse shortly after completing his college athletics career.

Apparel deals

The dollar values in this category are estimates based on reported values of apparel contracts for comparable professional athletes as well as expert opinions from those involved in the industry in a variety of roles. The numbers reflect the high end an athlete could make if he or she invests time and effort in maximizing marketability. Experts note that the value of an individual athlete can vary greatly thanks to a long list of factors that include their charisma, their own use or interest in a product, the competition for their services and more. There will almost certainly be outliers who can exceed or fall below the earning potential noted here. The experts we consulted are listed below.

Nick DePaula is an ESPN reporter who covers the footwear and apparel industry. He spent seven years as the editor-in-chief of Sole Collector Magazine before joining ESPN.

Phil de Picciotto is the founder and president of Octagon, a sports and entertainment agency that represents hundreds of professional athletes, among other clients.

Kendall Ellis is a professional sprinter who formerly starred on the USC track team.

Wes Felix is the founder of Evolve sports management agency and a former USC sprinter.

Chase Garrett is the CEO and founder of Icon Source, a company built to help less prominent athletes connect with growing brands for marketing opportunities on social media and elsewhere.

John Kernan is a research analyst who covers retail and consumer brands for Cowen & Co. investment bank.

AJ Maestas is the CEO of Navigate, a firm that measures marketing return on investment in the sports industry.

Commercials

The dollar values presented here are estimates based on insight from industry professionals with decades of experience and some data gathered about contracts with professional athletes who have comparable followings. The numbers reflect the high end an athlete could make if he or she invests time and effort in maximizing marketability.

Experts note that the value of an individual athlete can vary greatly thanks to a long list of factors that include their charisma, their own use or interest in a product, the timing of an ad campaign and more. There will almost certainly be outliers who can exceed the earning potential noted here.

The experts we consulted are listed below.

Ishveen Anand is the CEO and founder of OpenSponsorship, an online platform where athletes can connect with companies for marketing deals through social media, appearances or other endorsements.

Phil de Picciotto is the founder and president of Octagon, a sports and entertainment agency that represents hundreds of professional athletes, among other clients.

Jeff Schwartz is the founder and president of Excel Sports Management, a management and marketing agency that represents professional athletes.

Chase Garrett is the CEO and founder of Icon Source, a company built to help less prominent athletes connect with growing brands for marketing opportunities on social media and elsewhere.

Mark Goldstick is a CPA with 25 years of experience specializing in tax services for professional athletes. He has clients in the NBA, NHL and NFL and on the PGA Tour.

Eric Nelson is the operations manager at Garnet & Gold, a merchandise and memorabilia shop for Florida State fans that is based in Tallahassee, Florida.

Scott Hirth is the owner of M Den, a merchandise and memorabilia shop for University of Michigan fans that is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Kendall Ellis is a professional sprinter who formerly starred on the USC track team.

Wes Felix is the founder of Evolve sports management agency and a former USC sprinter.

Camps and lessons

The dollar values in this section come from existing data for comparable pro athletes and from estimates provided by industry experts. Unless otherwise noted, they are a best estimate of what an athlete might be able to make in one year if he or she pursues opportunities to coach or teach lessons as a high priority.

The dollar amounts for camps are based on the money that professional athletes make in branded camps and on the typical payments made to athletes who assist in camps.

The dollar amounts for lessons are based on average hourly rates for coaches — taking into account their notoriety and level of expertise — currently using the CoachUp online platform. The experts we consulted are listed below.

Andy Priestley is the co-founder and CEO of Ryzer, an Iowa-based company that helps organize a variety of sports camps among other services.

Alex Stone is the COO of CoachUp, an online platform that connects athletes with coaches for private or group lessons.

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